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Examples of services and their providers

You don't have to explicitly mention the types from the transdisciplinary system thinking, like we do in this educational text: "fruit apple", "furniture chair", "system airplane", "hair salon system as a creating system in the life cycle of a hairstyle", "haircut service of the hair salon as the behavior of the hairstyle creation system as the target system", "hair salon as a provider of the haircut service" and so on. In life, it is important to simply pay attention to the types of objects to ensure the correct identification of important objects from the diversity of surrounding objects. The question is to remember that you should think specifically about these types and highlight them in life. If you have identified the target system, then there must be a creating system for it. If you have a creating system, there must be a target system. If you do not differentiate between these two types of systems, you will overlook important objects in attention. If your educational course is a project (creating system), then there must be a target system (usually it is the "craftsmanship"). If you have a delivery system, then it is a creating system, and the target is the "delivered package" (delivered to the recipient, not "in transit").

Geniuses can remember everything they need in time and "by intuition". Systems thinkers are usually not geniuses, so they do not act "by intuition": they use the concepts of a systems approach as checklists - and check if they have thought about everything necessary when it comes to the service: about the system of creation/provider, which the service provides, about the adaptable service system as the target system, about the supra-system of this target system (so that changes in the target system turn out to be satisfactory in the end, harmonizing the interests of external project roles), about our system (it does not necessarily have to be the service system of creation!) and so on. Terms from the systems approach (for example, those offered by our course) are useful during learning, and later for discussing what has already been thought of, what would be good to consider, and maybe even go and have a conversation with knowledgeable people, because much does not need to be invented, but to be revealed/discovered: to find objects of a type specified in our course in the world, rather than just any objects that later turn out to be important for the project. Small nuances of each project (for example, a differently organized project team) make a big difference in how convenient it is to identify different systems in the project. Each time, for each project, you need to rediscover the target system and our system, define the necessary services, and everything else related to system thinking.

Therefore, the next steps are not "typical situations" and "thinking algorithms," but just examples.

Let's consider the simplest example: a task that is completely equivalent to the situation with a hair salon - only you will be making a grinding workshop. It's amazing how people who rarely deal with grinding don't stop to think about exactly the same questions that might come to mind when they think about the familiar situation of getting a haircut at the hair salon. And this "thinking about something important when it is missed" - this is where the power of the systems approach is manifested, the concepts of system thinking are key hints.

The grinding workshop as a provider of grinding service has what target system? The grinded surface: that very surface grinded by the grinding service (a physical object! The target system of grinding occupies a place in space, characterized by its roughness, on one side it adjoins the body of the object being ground, on the other side it touches some system in the environment). So, in general, the grinding workshop (or the grinding machine in its composition, depending on your project) - is a system that creates the ground surface.

It is necessary to consider the supra-system: why are we grinding? What will come into contact with the ground, or does the ground just need to sparkle for beauty? Do we need to coat the surface with lacquer to prevent oxidation? What is the class of surface treatment? It is important that all these questions automatically come to mind for an experienced grinder. But we are not experienced grinders, and we need all these questions to come to our mind too! Systems thinking provides exactly this - when it makes you think about the target system (it is not so easy to understand that it is the ground - although it is completely equivalent to "hairstyle" in the case of a hair salon), and about the supra-system (the ground in contact with the surface being ground on one side and still not clear on the other side of the ground), and about the needs of external project roles (why are we grinding? What would the supra-system be interested in getting if it has grinding?), and about the concept of using the surface (what behavior of the surface do we want to achieve as it is engaged in the supra-system, what is expected of it?), and the concept of the surface (what will the surface be like, will there be additional coatings, overlays, varnishing?), how to justify the result (how to make sure that all interests are satisfied?). If we are talking about the grinding service, then you can also think about the functions it will perform in relation to the target system in the supra-system of creating the part as a whole: the function "to make a shiny surface" - for this job you can simply paint the surface, or nickel-plate it, or even stick a shiny film on it; "to make a smooth surface" - for this job you can offer a series of methods in addition to grinding. First, determine the function, and then you can choose from a range of possible services. Another way to formulate it is: first define the functional object ("smooth surface"), and then propose a constructive object for its implementation (grinding on the blank, a smooth layer of paint, a plastic film glued on top, etc.). Next, think about how this can be accomplished through service::behavior, who can be the provider of such a service.

Systems thinking will force you to think about the external roles (the client who needs the ground), the internal/team roles (who will do the grinding?), and the external in relation to the creation system (who needs the grinding workshop, but not the actual grounds). It will make you document the interests of the external project roles and the concept of using the ground (describe the supra-system of the ground - what do external project roles want from the ground surface plus what is adjacent to it), the concept of the ground itself, which provides the expected properties (the class of surface treatment, the need for some coating after grinding, such as varnishing: how to ensure those characteristics of the ground that are important during its use).

You need to make the same considerations in other cases as well. For example, when you are creating a business trip system, and you suspect that your client here is the accounting department. Systems thinking forces you to go through the following reasoning:

  • Since we are talking about software (although we still don't know if the "business trip system" includes people, whether it is a kind of organizational unit or not), it describes something in its data. What does it describe? A business trip, or in a formal language - a "business trip." So, the target system (for which all this is being done, including documentation through your future software) is a business trip. A business trip is understood as a set/composition of quite material objects: a person (not necessarily an employee!) going somewhere, the starting point of the trip, the end point of the trip, the transport, the travel document (ticket, description of the actual "journey"), the accommodation, the accommodation document (receipt, description of the "stay") - all this for a certain period of time.
  • The client here is not the accounting department, but those who need a business trip: the accounting department ends up in the subordinate role of the service provider for creating a trip/creating system/enabling system! Understanding this, and creating a system that is convenient for the travelers first and foremost, and convenient for the accounting department secondarily (and not the other way around), the project team and its results will be needed first and foremost by all employees of the company who want to go on business trips, not just the accountants of the company who have to organize these trips. This significantly changes the negotiating positions in the project! From the enemy of all employees, the team becomes everyone's friend! And they are friends against the accounting department, for which zero trips is an ideal/preference because it reduces the number of their concerns about organizing.
  • What practices need to be performed for the target system to be created? What needs to be done (but for now not considering the agent: who will perform these practices)? The system of creation must register the need for the trip, allocate financing, purchase tickets, issue travel orders, arrange documentation (travel certificate and cargo documents, if necessary), receive a trip report.
  • What creating system should perform these practices? Software (done by a team of software developers), server software (a team of DevOps or SRE - software developers who also perform the functions of system administrators), or a service of document processing (software+servers+people working with this software as operators)? What will be considered a successful project? What roles are required for these different systems of creating the creating system (already the creation chain: the target system-trip, part of which is created by special software, part of which is created by people from the team of software developers)? Who performs these roles in the software development team? It will be a disaster if you consider "our project" a software development project, and at the time of project handover for operation, or when difficulties arise due to the lack of performers of other roles in a fully operational trip creation service (operation time of the trip creation system), questions start being asked from the current software developer! Explanations that "we thought that only software was needed from us, and someone else would take care of the roles" will not be heard! In the end, formalized business trips are needed! Only they count, and if the software cannot issue them by itself without some company employees, then you will need to "fabricate," i.e., organize and employ people!

It is very useful to refer to the dance metaphor for thinking about services involving people. Dances are a specific form of human behavior that maximizes (here we skip a huge number of system levels and go straight to the level of biochemistry) the bouquet of happiness hormones: dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, adrenaline, etc. Different dances give slightly different combinations of these hormones (buggy-wuggy with acrobatics will give more adrenaline, kizomba with hugs will give more oxytocin). In fact, all marketing/promotion of consumer goods today is structured like this: it connects the consumption of different products and services with receiving exactly this - increased pleasure, finding a certain combination of happiness hormones in the blood, slightly different for different products.

For example, a store provides the service of purchasing - it creates a purchase as a set of goods owned by the buyer in their hands as they leave the store, and the buyer's money in the store's accounts (thinking about money as gold, we can not get distracted by non-cash transactions and their "non-physicality"). The store helps create/make/produce (engineering terminology!) this purchase: it meets the buyer with its shelves and cash registers, and in fact it performs a "buyer's dance routine" among the shelves, facilitating the buyer's maximum filling of the cart and maximum emptying of their wallet, minimizing the buyer's rational decision-making opportunities through specially arranged product displays in the store, maximizing the bouquet of happiness hormones in the blood. It sounds cynical, but sadly, this is how it is - and such an approach to marketing and sales is becoming more and more common, even in retail there are even music being played to accompany the "shopping party."

In the dance metaphor used as the basis for examples of different services (and service providers as dancers showing the dance or organizers setting up the party) we are less concerned with the biochemically induced good mood after them, than with their form (and this is why we choose social/paired dance styles for the metaphor): remember that a dance performance is a complex interaction in real time among the dance floor, the music as sound wave oscillations (and the equipment for creating music), and two (or sometimes even more) dance participants, and sometimes there are also spectators and judges (if it is a competition). In people's minds, this "interaction in complex movement" is perceived as a dance performance (in everyday life, the more ambiguous word "dance" is often used), this shade of meaning is important for the metaphor we need for.

The service and the service provider, the purchasing process as the creation of the purchase: all this in everyday speech is mercilessly confused, so pay close attention to the types that are referred to: what is an object and what is the behavior of the object. The service - the behavior of the service provider, the purchase - it is the result of the service/service provided. But people might talk about the store like the "purchase service" (identifying the service provider and the service itself as what the service provider does, as well as creating the purchase and the actual purchase), as the "producer of the purchase" (it is normal, the type "service" for creating the purchase is omitted), as the "purchase provider" (the purchase is understood as the result of the service provided) and all sorts of other variations. This is all normal, if you don't get confused.

A significant part of the service provider is the trade floor of the store. The store contributes to the "purchase creation dance," because the floor is important not on its own, but as part of the behavior/dance (remember: behavior - it is the interaction of physical objects that change each other's conditions during this interaction), it is only considered in the context of providing the service, in the context of creating the purchase.